Taupo students build electric bike for EVolocity Waikato
A movie inspired the electric bike a group of students from Tauhara College, Taupo, are building.
"I was watching The World's Fastest Indian, and I thought, why don't we do that?" one of the students, Denis Mansell, said.
"It's all about aerodynamics and having a low centre of gravity. You'll see some bikes are quite high, so the lower you are, the harder you can turn corners. It's all physics talk."
Year 13 students Mansell and Joshua Love-Parata and five others from their school are taking part in EVolocity Waikato.
EVolocity Waikato is a first-time competition for high school students to design, build and race their own electric vehicles. The concept is run by the Waikato Engineering Careers Association.
The Tauhara students found an old bike at the local dump and lowered the handlebars to the same height as the front tyre.
They used recycled materials from school for the seat and scrap metal in the design, while EVolocity provided the electric motor kit.
Mansell said they wanted to be "eco-friendly" since they were using an electric motor.
"We picked up the bike from the dump, the seat fabric and foam were offcuts from the fabric department, and apart from a new piece of tubing, everything else has been recycled."
The group recently tested out the bike, but there were a few complications.
"It was very scary. We went to third gear, half-throttling it. It was really moving, but then the fuse blew, so it cut out.
"It doesn't have a controller which regulates the power. And there was so much power, so it was going 100 per cent.
"So we have a controller and we want to see how that works and get some advice."
The students have put a lot of hours into the project since the start of the year - lunchtimes, after school and weekends.
"Everything's been handcrafted. There's been a lot of time and love has been put into it," Mansell said.
"But when you finally flick that switch and it moves, it will feel good."
More than 70 students from 12 schools are taking part in the regional competition. The designs range from four-wheel go-karts to two-wheeler bikes.
On Saturday, all students involved met at Fraser High School, Hamilton, where their vehicles were scrutinised and provided with a checklist of fixes required before they can race.
"Learning with your hands is as important as learning with your head," said competition scrutineer and mentor Stew Lister, "but that's been a bit lost in today's society because there's so much competing for a young person's attention.
"EVolocity means they can be mentored throughout their project and learn those things. They can also be free to learn from their mistakes, which is just as important."
Waikato Engineering Careers Association manager Mary Jensen said the competition is sparking renewed interest in hands-on learning at secondary schools.
"It's definitely filling a gap in today's society. It has been a very positive experience for them and, as well as teaching hands-on skills, it also sparking interest in subjects like engineering, maths and science."
The regional finals will be held at Kartsport, Hamilton, on Friday, September 16. They will then compete in the national finals in Christchurch on November 27.